Collaborative investing

Via the Nitron Circle of Experts blog:

The team from AQ Research (at whose conference I’ll be speaking tomorrow in London) has written a blog post about an idea I’ve chewed on for a while: ‘A Marketplace for Research’.

There are a number of gross inefficiencies in the current research business, and inefficiencies are usually the breeding ground where new business models can be created.  Among those inefficiencies:

• Many people on Wall Street are paid large amounts of money to do identical work, e.g., probably hundreds of investors have slightly different models of what Microsoft’s earnings will be

• Money managers pay a lot for a product, research, whose exact value they don’t know.   

• Research analysts, who are supposed to be experts in valuation, don’t know exactly how to price their own product.

 

The idea of a marketplace for research addresses many of these inefficiencies. As one small example of a research market, I know of a boutique research firm which explicitly auctions off certain new analyses to, e.g., the top four bidders among their clients.

Another model: there are quite a few startups which provide a marketplace for retail investors to share their research, although of course in the vast majority of cases this research is far inferior to what is sold to institutional investors.  These sites are hoping to benefit from the wisdom of crowds effect, as does the Circle of Experts.

• SeekingAlpha.com, which channels contents from hundreds of bloggers to provide insight on a range of industries. They pay the bloggers nothing, but monetize the traffic through advertising. Bloggers participate for exposure.

• Marketocracy , a research company and fund which has recruited over 55,000 people to manage over 65,000 model portfolios. It then invests based on the best picks of those participants.

• Feeling Bullish, BullPoo, Digstock, and SocialPicks – all of which are discussion sites in which your public discussion of investment ideas is systematically ranked. The SocialPicks site is currently down.

• Stocktickr positions itself as a “trading journal” in which you can keep track of your trading ideas. Asking people to submit this information manually won’t work—they need to have partnerships with all the major online trading services. (Update: compare with Mint, which has executed this idea well.)

• Bivio, a site which helps individual investors form investment clubs. They provide accounting and fund management services, including investment partnership accounting and tax software.

• Motley Fool CAPS, a Motley Fool service that lets users place predictions on a publicly listed stock’s performance vs. the S&P 500 over a given time frame ( See Techcrunch’s writeup)